Thomas James (Tom) Foord
May 8th, 1922 – April 12th, 2012
The family of Tom Foord sadly announces the recent passing of their dear husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother and uncle at his home in Vernon with his family at his side.
Tom was born in the small hamlet of Instow, Saskatchewan, the oldest child of Albert and Emma Foord. He grew up surrounded by the non-stop activity generated by him and his brothers Vernon, Sid, Ian, Ron and Elmer with one sister June, who refereed much of the going’s on among the boys.
Between classes in the one room schoolhouse, where dad was the only person in his grade, and milking the cow and other chores, the cold, short winter days were filled with hockey games on flooded fields and the longer warm summer days played out with baseball and stick and can games made up by our grandfather Foord’s cricket playing past.
The Depression of the late 20’s and 30’s had a profound effect on dad and shaped his intense desire to succeed at something in the face of the tremendous adversity the world was experiencing at that time. He saw firsthand how families and whole communities rallied around each other to assist those struggling and throughout his life dad was always generous with those needing a helping hand.
He left Instow in 1939 at the age of 18 to join the Royal Canadian Air Force with hopes of becoming a pilot. To his severe disappointment he was unable to fly, but instead was posted to a ground crew in Newfoundland. It was there that he met a beautiful young teletype operator from Vernon BC named Norah Davidson and after being married in 1944, they moved back to mom’s home town. He often said that meeting mom was the best thing that happened in his life.
Coming from the dustbowl Depression era of southern Saskatchewan, where in dad’s words “you couldn’t grow a carrot”, the North Okanagan was a veritable Garden of Eden! He marvelled at the fruit trees and the deep blue lakes that surrounded the area and could not believe that such a place existed. After a time living with mom’s parents, they managed to build a home on 16th Street with the assistance of the Veterans Land Act and by then had two small children, Jean and Colin. They were followed by Nancy, Janet, Robert and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who brought them much joy in their 68 years together.
After a time tending sheep for our grandfather Davidson, selling vacuum cleaners door to door and driving truck, delivering oil to the construction and logging camps between Vernon and Nakusp, dad managed to save up enough money and with some assistance from relatives purchased the Home Oil gas station located kitty corner from the Travelodge Motel in 1951. He struggled selling gas for a couple of years until he and his friend Jim Lochhead decided to start selling tires and named the company Kal Tire after Kalamalka Lake.
The work was long and hard, but dad made many friends calling on loggers and truckers throughout southwest BC. His friendly manner, work ethic and drive to succeed impressed many a tough logger in the bush and the business grew slowly but steadily. Today the business is a global entity that continues to grow based on the values, ethics and ideals from almost 60 years ago, with many people benefitting from dad’s leadership, wisdom and guidance.
Dad loved to be around people, whether just visiting, playing a round of golf or a hand of gin rummy. There would always be lots of banter and good natured joking that never failed to entertain and amuse those in attendance. His quick smile and easy laugh always put people at ease and he commented numerous times how blessed he felt to be surrounded by so many good people in friendship and business.
He cared deeply for the town of Vernon and its people and was involved in many causes, supporting the community in numerous ways and was recognized by a variety of institutions for his contributions. Giving back to those that had helped him succeed was very important for him.
Our family would like to thank all of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and caregivers who helped dad during his final weeks, particularly Dr. Fred Dyck for his support and Patricia Weijs who provided exceptional care for both mom and dad during their illnesses.
Dad’s dream of becoming a pilot was finally realized in 1968 when he got his license and flew for business and pleasure over the next 30 years. He had many an escapade during that time and loved the independence, freedom and joy that came from winging his way through the clouds on a bright sunny day with the beautiful lakes and mountains below him.
There will be a memorial service on Tuesday, May 1 at 2:00 pm at the Trinity United Church, 3300 Alexis Park Drive, with a tea service at the Church to follow.
If desired, donations can be made to the United Way of the North Okanagan, 3304- 30th Avenue, Vernon BC, V1T 2C8.
The following is a passage from the poem “Return“by Patrick J. Phillips:
Up at last, it’s been so long,
Back to blue where I belong,
Whistling wind through cockpit seams,
Clears my mind for unborn dreams.
I thought my wings would let me fly,
A pilot soaring through the sky.
But so much more they gave to me,
A chance to live, a chance to be.
Goodbye Dad, we love you and miss you dearly.
Funeral arrangements have been made with:
BETHEL FUNERAL CHAPEL LTD.
5605 – 27th Street , Vernon BC, V1T 8Z5